In Shakespeare’s King Lear, as the decisive field battle against the conniving imposters is to begin, the blinded Earl of Gloucester is led by his legitimate son, Edgar, to sit under the quiet shade of a tree. Edgar then rushes off to fight the imposters and Gloucester anxiously waits out the battle under that tree. By now, we all know that Lviv is a city on Ukraine’s western border and – for now – somewhat removed from the Russian Armed Forces’ invasion to the north, south and east. The residents of Lviv still hear the air raid sirens day and night and look up at the sky wondering which bombs will rain down, but perhaps the city’s most unbearable moments come from the same thoughts that troubled the blind Gloucester as he waited in the soft afternoon breeze.
Last week, the Lviv Municipal Art Center unveiled its wartime “Shelter” Exhibition of Ukrainian Artists, an extraordinary gesture of defiance that is sure to make all other artists rethink their work’s potential. As we will experience, these valiant Ukrainian artists are no strangers to bravery and the overwhelming power of “Shelter” will be felt far beyond the frontlines.